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Patrick Barkey

Patrick Barkey, pictured here during an economic outlook presentation, is the director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

Montana's aging population, nicknamed "The Silver Tsunami" by local economists, will be the subject of the 14th annual Economic Update Series hosted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

This year's Missoula stop will be at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The series is titled “The Silver Tsunami: Are Montana’s Businesses Ready?” and will address topics such as workforce development and local working age population.

Experts will deliver the latest state and national economic outlooks as well. Montana recently saw its 10th year of economic growth, and bureau director Patrick Barkey will dive deeper into industries that grew and those that struggled. 

“Last year, 2,850 Montanans turned 66 years old,” Barkey said in an email. “At the same time, the state only added 2,712 18-year-olds. It gets worse in 2024, when 3,146 Montanans turn 66 compared to 3,042 new 18-year-olds, before getting better in 2030, when the pattern reverses with slightly more 18-year-olds aging into the working age population than those retiring.”

The Montana Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Chamber Foundation will lead the discussion and identify the solutions that work for the state business community, according to Montana Chamber communications director Alexandria Klapmeier. Each stop around the state, including the Missoula stop, will also highlight a local business or organization that has found a solution or system for workforce problems in their industry or area.

“Workforce development is a major issue that is affecting every business sector in Montana and is threatening our ability to grow economically,” said Todd O’Hair, executive director of the Montana Chamber Foundation. “As Montana’s population ages in coming years, the strain to maintain a quality workforce will only become more challenging.”

For more information about the Economic Update and to register, visit https://www.montanachamber.com/event-registration/2019-economic-update-series/.

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